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Gold, incentives and meh

Nine in ten GPs think Jeremy Hunt should go

Exclusive Almost 90% of GPs believe that Jeremy Hunt should step down as health secretary, a Pulse survey reveals.

The poll of 817 GPs found that 87% of the profession believed that Mr Hunt should resign or be removed from his post, while more than 95% said they did not have confidence in his ability to manage the health service.

Just 19 GPs (2.5%) said they did have confidence in the way Mr Hunt was managing the health service, while 48 (6%) said he should not be removed from his post.

GPs responding to the survey said Mr Hunt - who became the longest serving health secretary since the establishment of the NHS this week - was described by respondents as ‘rigid’, ‘arrogant’ and ‘statistically illiterate’.

It comes as Mr Hunt has been heavily criticised for his imposition of a contract on junior doctors and his plans for a seven-day NHS, becoming the first health minister to preside over an all-out strike by the profession.

The LMCs Conference next week in London is set to debate a motion of no confidence in the health secretary, calling for his ‘immediate resignation’ - following a similar motion which failed back in 2013.

GPs have criticised him for pressing ahead with routine weekend GP appointments despite the evidence revealing a lack of patient demand, while his ‘new deal’ for general practice was described by the BMA annual representatives meeting as putting the ‘very existence’ of general practice in danger.

The General Practice Forward View has been more warmly received, despite a lot of scepticism, but was notably announced by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, with very little input from the health secretary.

However, the main criticisms against Mr Hunt focused on his misuse of scientific data, specifically regarding the drive towards seven-day services. 

Dr Alison Bonavia, a partner in Hartlepool, said: ‘It feels as if the message to the public is being manipulated both in terms of the statistics/risks quoted and also that the issue is about rate of pay on Saturdays - this is not the overall concern of doctors.’

Jeremy Hunt’s questionable use of ‘weekend effect’ data

emergency admissions square PPL

emergency admissions square PPL

emergency admissions square PPL

The survey findings come as major new studies reveal that statistics used by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to justify the Government’s push for a seven-day service may be inaccurate.

Mr Hunt has repeatedly quoted the ‘weekend effect’ in his arguments for the Government’s mandate to provide a 7-day NHS, saying that greater staffing levels at hospitals over the weekend could prevent 6,000 deaths. The statistics quoted by Hunt are based on a study published in the BMJ in 2015 by Professor Nick Freemantle.

But four new studies over the past week have revealed that in fact, fewer patients die after being admitted to hospital at the weekend, with academics claiming that the Government’s push for a seven-day service is ‘fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.’

Two studies in the Lancet state that the weekend effect is a ‘major oversimplification’ of a complex pattern of weekly changes in quality of care which are unlikely to be addressed by just increasing the availability of hospital doctors on Saturdays and Sundays.

A further as-yet unpublished study found that studies demonstrating the ‘weekend effect’ have been based on flawed coding.

Dr Serena Jones, a partner in Herefordshire, said that Mr Hunt’s unwillingness to engage with doctors on the matter of seven-day working and the junior doctors’ contract had seen ‘everyone lose respect and confidence in him.’

She said: ‘He appears ignorant and doesn’t seem to want to hear about the struggles we all face.’

Referring to the ongoing row between Mr Hunt and junior doctors, London GP partner Dr May Cahill warned that Hunt’s dismissive attitude towards doctors’ concerns about the changes to the NHS, had alienated the next generation of health professionals in England.

She said: ‘His general attitude towards the profession and his decision to impose a contract on junior doctors that is going to ruin recruitment and retention. He is the first health minister in history to preside over an all-out strike by doctors. I can’t understand why he is still in his job.’

Other GPs argued that while Mr Hunt was unpopular with GPs, criticisms should also be levelled at others in Government backing the seven-day NHS plan, including the Prime Minister and the chancellor.

Dr Julie Draper from the Wirral argued: ‘[Mr Hunt] is doing what he is able to within a very limited budget and increasing demand. It must be remembered that he is just the face of the health service management and the majority of the policy design and implementation is done by civil servants not the health minister.’

The Department of Health spokesperson said: ’As any credible pollster would tell you, a self-selecting poll can always be expected to skew towards the negative. Given that these questions were sent to several thousand GPs, this would suggest a high proportion expressed no negative view.’

Do you have confidence in the way the health secretary is managing the health service?

Yes: 2%

No: 96%

Don’t know: 2%

 

Do you think Jeremy Hunt should resign or be removed from his post?

Yes: 87%

No: 6%

Don’t know: 7%

The survey was launched on 28 April 2016, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 24 questions asked covered a wide range of GP topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for a Samsung HD TV as an incentive to complete the survey. A total of 817 GPs answered this question. 

 

Readers' comments (41)

  • To the 13% who think he is not doing a bad job:

    What are you sniffing?

    If you're not on some sort of illegal drug I would suggest a cranial ct scan.

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  • Its cat & mouse game he is playing with doctors because he doesn't want people to think that Tories dismantled NHS. He wants doctors to take blame. So he will keep on making our life miserable till we leave NHS.
    So it will be have to be either cross party agreement on alternative mode of funding on NHS, or doctors leaving NHS.

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  • Does anyone thing he cares or that it will make any difference?

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  • The Department of Health spokesperson said: ’As any credible pollster would tell you, a self-selecting poll can always be expected to skew towards the negative. Given that these questions were sent to several thousand GPs, this would suggest a high proportion expressed no negative view.’

    It's "spin" like this along with the Department of Health choosing to ignore studies that dispute the "weekend effect" existing (as they claim it does) that are part of the very reason thet the medical profession has no confidence in Jeremy Hunt, and so many of us think he should be removed form his post.

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  • Anonymous Consultant 3.25 is exactly right. Hunt doesn't give a flying fig what anyone in the NHS thinks. His only concern is that his oily egregious mate Dave supports him. That's unlikely to change as Dave needs all the help he can get over the referendum

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  • But even if does go, he'll just be replaced by another subservient monkey

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  • I am sure he will be delighted to go... straight into a leading role in a private healthcare provider.

    Why is there no way to stop him going to work for a private healthcare provider as soon as he has dismantled the NHS and sold it off to the company he has lined up to employ him?

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • i think he should stay and sort out the mess he created.

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  • LET's ALL GET REAL - IF the public back BREXIT, which seems likely, you won't have the income inflows to support all the fanciful, unrealistic, socialist ideologies hiding within the NHS. SO you've got to get a grip on the money - IF YOU DON'T - then you'll see a health service that can no longer function on any level on the basis of free at the point of access.
    IT's important to acknowledge that the NHS operates like its run by Communists! The whole structure and ideology is a political football where reality is fiction - what other country anywhere, other than Russia, would run a business like this?
    So for those politicos inside the NHS who rely on someone, somewhere else to provide their monthly income you can't say Jeremy Hunt must go - he's only unravelling the unrealistic notions of past politicians who dared not upset NHS staff by allowing money budgets to mushroom with no tangible reasons other than buying political support and giving jobs to political supporters (king makers) - THOSE DAYS ARE LONG GONE - the sooner the NHS stops being a political football and gets on with its main purpose the better!!!

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